September 7, 1932 – February 1, 2019
Thomas Francis Lillis, Sr. passed away in the early morning of February 1, 2019. His loving wife and children had been with him throughout the night, as usual coming together as a strong family unit. Tom was born in Kansas City on September 7, 1932 to Kathryn Helm Lillis and James Francis Lillis. He was the second of six children. The Lillis family had (and still has) a strong Catholic tradition and Tom's education reflected this. He attended Visitation Catholic School and Rockhurst High School, graduating in 1949. From there he went to St. Louis University and graduated in 1953.
Throughout his school years, Tom was known for his athletic abilities. He played several sports, but basketball was his favorite and his best. After an outstanding high school career, he went to St. Louis University on a basketball scholarship, where he continued to excel. Both Tom and his teams were exceptional. Tom was inducted into the Rockhurst High School Sports Hall of Fame and his 1953 college basketball team was initiated into the SLU Sports Hall of Fame. After college Tom served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and played semi-pro basketball on the Phillips 66 team, while also working for the company.
His traveling lifestyle ended in 1955 when he met the love of his life, Pat Slocum. He and Pat were married in St. Louis on November 17, 1956 and they settled in Kansas City. Once back in his hometown, Tom joined his father's business and started his own family. "Family first" became his life philosophy and the mantra that he passed on to his own children.
Tom went to work with his father and brothers at James F. Lillis Company. After his father died, Tom started the Thomas F. Lillis Company, dealing in commercial real estate. He later bought and managed Zepi's Pizza – remaining a big pizza fan for the rest of his life! After working in the Jackson County administration during the 1980's, he retired.
Tom was soft-spoken and calm, but he was a big physical presence in the lives of his family and friends. His presence alone was usually enough to keep his boys in check. Known to many as "Big Tom" or "Big T," he was often called on to offer advice and support. But he was also a jokester and, using his dry sense of humor, he could just as often offer a joke. (Sometimes it was hard to tell the difference!) He was in many long-standing groups and over the years enjoyed golfing, fishing, hunting, playing cards, watching sports, and, of course, enjoying good food and a good drink. And he recently took up painting, exploring in his interest in art. In addition, Tom was a 46-year member of St. Thomas More parish, and a long-time member of Blue Hills Country Club and the SERRA Club of KC.
But nothing – absolutely nothing – was more important to Tom than his family. He was a family man through and through. He kept close relationships with his brothers and sisters throughout his life. He was a loving, caring partner to his wife, Pat. He loved spending time with his children – whether they were stopping for a short visit or gathering for holidays. He was never happier than when he was watching his grandchildren – and he particularly loved watching them pursue numerous sports. Tom was proud to pass on his strong sense of family, his devout Catholic faith, and his love of sports to all family members.
Tom is survived by his beloved wife Pat Slocum Lillis; eight children – Kim Lillis (Jon) Nee, Tom (Patti) Lillis, Steven (Jenny) Lillis, Mark (Kim) Lillis, Joseph (Christy) Lillis, Timothy (Pat) Lillis, David (Paula) Lillis, and Paul (Inger) Lillis; thirty-plus grandchildren and great-grandchildren; many nieces and nephews; and his younger siblings Joan Lillis Boushka and Terrance (Josie) Lillis. Tom was preceded in death by his parents Kathryn and James Lillis, his sister Deidra Lillis Davis, and his brothers James Lillis and Helm Lillis. All of the Lillis family wishes to thank the medical staff at St. Joseph Medical Center for the care they gave to Tom.
Services for Thomas Francis Lillis will be held on Friday, February 8 at St. Thomas More Parish, 11822 Holmes Road, Kansas City, MO. Visitation will begin at 9:30am with a funeral mass following at 11:30am. Burial will follow at Mt. Olivet Catholic Cemetery, 7601 Blue Ridge Blvd., Raytown, MO. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Catholic Charities or the SERRA Club of KC.
850 Main Street, Kansas City, MO 64105
Serra Club of KCMO
PO Box 480825, Kansas City, MO 64148
- Visitation Friday, February 8, 2019
- Mass of Christian Burial Friday, February 8, 2019
- Committal Service Friday, February 8, 2019
Becky and Jimmy Craig
February 6, 2019
This is full of love and prayers to a wonderful caring family. As our sons were growing up and becoming the men they are today I know a strong influence on my son was the commitment to “family” that came from Tom and Pat. We will miss this bright star in our lives and will rejoice in knowing he is watching over all of us. Our love and condolences to all.
Newton A. Bonino
February 6, 2019
To my son Nicholas Bonino's good friend, Paul Lillis , and his Mom and all his siblings we extend our prayers and God's blessings to You all! Your Dad was a great guy and will be missed!
Ed Corich, St. Louis
February 6, 2019
I am sorry to hear of Tom's passing. My condolences to the Lillis family.
February 5, 2019
Such a kind gentleman. He was one of my dad's best friends. I'll miss seeing him at mass. Hugs to Pat and all the Lillis children.